Check out a sneak preview of Friday’s season finale of Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice. Thanks to our friends at the Discovery Channel for this teaser. Tune in on Friday at 9 p.m. Pacific on Discovery, or check your local listings.
(left) Sen. Mark Begich (D); (right) Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R)
You knew this would be full of theatrics. U.S. Senate candidates Mark Begich, the incumbent Democrat, and his Republican challenger, former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, debated Alaska’s fisheries’ issues in Kodiak on Wednesday night.
Begich has made friends of fishermen throughout Alaska for his views, which include opposition to the Pebble Mine project, plus vowing to strengthen the state’s fishing industry. So it was rather obvious who was going to enjoy the homecourt advantage in Kodiak.
The Republican candidate, Sullivan, appears to be the choice to unseat Begich in the Nov. 4 election if those numbers hold. But Begich had his support on Wednesday, and it probably didn’t help Sullivan’s cause as the building’s villain after reports surfaced he tried to avoid the fisheries debate before agreeing to attend.
From the Associated Press:
It was a friendly audience for Begich, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries, and Coast Guard and entered the debate with the endorsement of fishing organizations such as the United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. At one point, Begich, wearing a gold salmon pin on his lapel, said he wouldn’t mind answering some of the questions that were being directed solely to Sullivan.
“Well, Senator Begich, we’ve heard a lot from you, but we really haven’t had an opportunity to question Mr. Sullivan,” one of the questioners, fish industry writer Laine Welch, said before asking Sullivan another question.
During the debate, Sullivan was asked about his brother’s fish business. He said his brother is a wholesaler who buys farm-raised fish as well as fish from Alaska. Sullivan said he is against genetically modified fish, known as “Frankenfish,” a position Begich also holds.
Sullivan said he has never supported the Pebble Mine, a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery in southwest Alaska. But he said he supports having a process in place for projects like that to be vetted.
Sullivan has said the controversial project should be allowed to go through the permitting process. He and others, including Murkowski and state officials, worry the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will veto the project before it has gone to permitting.
Begich — to applause — called the project the wrong mine in the wrong place.
When Begich said he planned to hold a committee hearing to discuss concerns about Canadian mines and their impacts on Alaska, Sullivan said hearings and letters don’t get the job done.
“Face-to-face contact, face-to-face diplomacy, that’s what you make an impact on,” Sullivan said.
It should be an interesting Election Day in Alaska.
There’s no room at the inn for caribou. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering its options to help contain a herd of caribou that has found its way to an uninhabited island on U.S. Federal land in the Aleutians.
From the Associated Press:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say caribou swim from Adak Island, where they were introduced to provide sport hunting for military personnel, to uninhabited Kagalaska Island, part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The agency proposes to keep a new herd from forming by killing caribou on Kagalaska with refuge staff, volunteers or contractors, starting next year.
Five caribou were shot in 2012 and up to 15 more may be on the island. Kagalaska is a wilderness area and caribou would alter it, said refuge manager Steve Delehanty.
“Things that belong out there ought to stay out there as much as possible,” he said by phone from his office in Homer. “Things that don’t belong out there ought to not be out there, as much as possible.”
Caribou would target the island’s lichen beds, trample other vegetation and create trails, he said.
“None of it is natural,” Delehanty said.
Adak is a 283-square mile island 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. The military built an airfield on the island during World War II and it was used as a Naval Air Station until 1997.
The nearest native caribou are 500 miles away. At the request of military officials, caribou were introduced to the island in 1958 to give personnel opportunities for recreational hunting.
When the island housed 1,000 to 6,000 people, sport hunting kept the herd to 200 to 400 animals. After the base closed, by 2012, the herd had grown to an estimated 2,700 animals. Their only predators are people, and hunters can shoot cows year-round.
Brothers Chris and Casey Keefer love “roughing it,” and the Sportsman Channel’s series, Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 provides a sneak peak into their world of survival in the most remote places.
The show’s season premiere is Friday at 8 p.m. on the Sportsman Channel. Here’s a release with all the details:
Award-Winning Series “Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0” Returns to Sportsman Channel, October 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
NEW BERLIN, WI (September 29, 2014) – Chris and Casey Keefer can’t get enough of being dropped in remote places with little food, little direction and only one goal: survive by hunting. They were first “dropped” in Alaska in 2011 and made television history by floating on a remote river for 28 days. Now, they are dropped again into Alaska’s backcountry in the Sportsman Channel original series – Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 presented by Buck Knives. This version has them once again pitting their skills as hunters, woodsmen and anglers against an unforgiving landscape. Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, the original series will premiere exclusively on Sportsman Channel, the leader in outdoor TV for American sportsmen and women, on Thursday, October 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Catch a sneak peek of the show by visiting http://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/dropped/
The Keefers’ new Alaskan adventure began by traveling 80 river miles to their extraction spot while carrying only 100 pounds of gear each in their backpacks. They had no provisions – all their gear was for catching or killing their food and then preparing it. They are once again floating downriver to land that hasn’t been hunted for more than a decade due to predation.
“Dropped has proven to be a very exciting and adventure-filled program that Sportsman Channel viewers can’t get enough of,” said Graig Hale, vice president of business development for Sportsman Channel. “The Keefer brothers are entertaining, extreme adventurists who are also skilled outdoorsmen. The combination makes for a great television program.”
“The first two series of Dropped earned phenomenal coverage from both a survivor angle and hunting angle,” said Casey Keefer. “Our fans couldn’t get enough of seeing us suffer. We have to get our bodies – and minds – in serious shape before attempting these treks. It is a true test of stamina, grit and brotherly love.”
Just like in the past, they make their way through perilous and game-rich country while attempting to call in or spot and stalk caribou, moose and black bear. The brothers also get more than they bargain for with charging grizzlies.
“The grizzly encounters happen more than once and it is intense,” said Chris Keefer. “It is difficult to describe the rush of thoughts and emotions in that moment when it is just me, my brother and a cameraman literally stuck on the water in a floating raft with a sow whose only goal is to protect her family.”
Learn more about Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 at https://www.facebook.com/DroppedTV and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DroppedTV. Use the hashtag #BeAlive
To find Sportsman Channel in your area click here.
About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel/Sportsman HD is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to honoring a lifestyle that is celebrated by millions of Americans. The leader in outdoor television, Sportsman Channel delivers entertaining and informative programming that embraces outdoor adventure, hunting and fishing, and reveals it through unique, surprising and authentic storytelling. Sportsman Channel embraces the attitude of “Red, Wild & Blue America” – where the American Spirit and Great Outdoors are celebrated in equal measure. The network also is dedicated to promoting our nation’s military heroes and veterans, as well as providing a voice for conservation throughout the United States. Sportsman Channel reaches more than 36 million U.S. television households. Stay connected to Sportsman Channel online at www.thesportsmanchannel.com; Facebook, (facebook.com/sportsmanchannel); Twitter (twitter.com/SPORTSMANchnl and twitter.com/SportsmanPR) and YouTube (youtube.com/TheSportsmanChannel).
It hasn’t been a good summer for wildfires in the West. So many fires are triggered by human-created reasons like burning cigarettes, so companies such as Green Smart Living/GEO are attempting to help prevent such issues by eliminating the combustible cigarettes. Here’s a release that will coincide with National Fire Prevention Week, which is Oct. 7-13:
GEO To Help Support National Fire Prevention Week
SALT LAKE CITY – Each and every summer, we all hear news stories of wildfires reeking havoc to our nation’s forests. To make these matters even worse, up to 90 percent of all wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans.
While some of these fires can be contributed to unattended campsites, or a variety of other natural causes, many of these fires are caused by discarded cigarette butts. GEO (www.geocigs.com), a leader in creating a conscious living and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes, understands that this issue needs to be addressed.
By helping to eliminate the traditional combustible cigarette, they focus on helping reduce the amount of fires that plague our national forests, and even our own communities. “In one year alone, 900 people were killed, and 2,500 people were injured just because of fires started from cigarettes. If that wasn’t enough, the toll of human and property damage in these fires totaled 6 billion dollars. All of this simply because of reckless and careless smoking.” Stated GEO CEO Adrian Chiaramonte. This is one of the main reasons that GEO wanted to help.
In an effort to help support this worthy cause, GEO will be donating 5 percent of online sales to a local wildfire organization during National Fire Prevention Week. With this donation, the hope is that everyone will learn about the dangers of wildfires, and how preventing them can benefit us all.
GEO recently emerged as one of the leading environmentally friendly rechargeable e-cigarettes in the industry, and is creating a solution to the problems of the smoking industry though its GEO recyclable e-cig products.
Many people do not realize the environmental toll that it takes just to produce cigarettes, or the total damage that is done by improperly discarding the cigarette waste.
By helping people realize that small actions can make a big impact on our planet, we can help people live a bit more responsibly. This in turn helps everyone live in a place that is a bit greener, cleaner, and more sustainable.
ASJ correspondent Dennis Musgraves of the Alaskan Salmon Slayers will have a Kenai coho story for our November issue. Dennis provided this video for a sneak preview of what you’ll read about it in the print edition.
Laine Welch, one of Alaska’s go-to reporters for fish-related news, weighed in on the concern about Alaska’s struggling Chinook salmon population.
From Welch’s report in the Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Dispatch:
“It’s not the freshwater production of the juvenile Chinook that is the reason this decline is occurring; it’s being driven by poor marine survival,” said Ed Jones, the lead for the initiative and sport fish coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“We don’t know why but once these juvenile Chinook salmon are entering the ocean they are not surviving at the rates they once did,” Jones added.“And at the same, we also are seeing younger and smaller Chinook returning to spawn, and this obviously results in smaller fish being caught.”
At each river system, the Chinook team is estimating how many young fish are going to the ocean, refining estimates of how many older fish are returning to spawn, and tracking the marine catches.
“That’s an effort to estimate the harvests of these 12 indicator stocks in detail,” he explained. “So we’re going to implement tagging programs on the juveniles, and as they go out to the ocean they’ll be marked with an adipose fin clip. We also will include a tiny coded wire tag in their heads, and those will be sent to the Juneau lab where we can tell when and where those fish were released.With those three components we can do full stock reconstruction.”
Jones said his primary focus is on the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers because of the importance of Chinook salmon to subsistence users.
“A major part of this initiative is to make sure we can help those folks fish when there’s fish around and pull the reins back when they are not around. But we need to gather the information that allows us to do that accurately each and every year. We are trying to learn from the users and gather information on historical harvests, what the people know and what they’ve learned for centuries. We’ll feed that information into our stock assessment program,” he said.
Chinook salmon spend up to five years in the ocean, and production goes through up and down cycles. A few years ago, West Coast and British Columbia stocks were said to be doomed, but they have rebounded and are at record numbers in some cases. Jones believes that’s what will also occur in Alaska.
“The take-home message is that productivity cycles, and unfortunately in Alaska right now, we are at the low end of that cycle,” he said. “We are experiencing a tough time right now, but it will turn around so don’t lose hope.”
The youngster beat out the old fishing veterans. Recently, Idaho teenager Jackson Hobbs, 16, took the lead in the Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby with a 335-pounder.
Hobbs, who was visiting Alaska from his Idaho home, had his big fish hold up to win the derby and its $10,000 prize, plus a bonus for total tickets sold that should as much as double that base award.
From the Anchorage Daily News:
Hobbs had reason to be nervous. He said his grandfather, Tim, had already called a couple times before Tuesday to jokingly tell him someone had caught a bigger fish.
“He’s kind of a joker,” said Hobbs, who lives in Franklin, Idaho.
The derby officially ended Monday night at 9 p.m. For catching the largest halibut, Hobbs will win $10,000 plus 50 cents for each derby ticket sold, according to Jim Lavrakas with the Homer Chamber of Commerce. The exact figure won’t be announced until Monday, when final ticket sales are calculated. However, Lavrakas said Hobbs’ haul will likely be similar to the $21,281 taken home last year by Bellevue, Washington, angler Gene Jones.
Hobbs’ big fish had to withstand a big challenge when another whopper was brought in just three days before the derby’s end. Luckily for the teen, Randall Chadwick’s barn door weighed 301 pounds – a monster flatfish to be sure, but still 34 pounds short of Hobbs’ derby winner.
“That was a scare, but I knew 335 would be tough to beat,” Lavrakas said Tuesday from Homer.
Good for you, Jackson!
From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:
Waterfowl Regulations for 2014 Include Good News for Goose Hunters
(Statewide) — Alaska goose hunters will be allowed larger bag limits this season, depending upon where in the state they hunt and what goose species they pursue, thanks to changes in the 2014-2015 migratory bird hunting regulations.
Canada geese (including cackling geese) and white-fronted geese – previously managed together under “dark goose” regulations – are now split into separate categories, allowing hunters to take limits of each species. For example, in the Gulf Coast Zone where dark goose limits last season were a combined four birds per day, hunters this year can harvest four Canada geese and four white-fronted geese per day.
Other changes to this year’s migratory bird hunting regulations include:
- Increased bag limits for white-fronted geese in western Alaska’s Game Management Unit 18. Hunters there will be allowed eight whited-fronted geese per day and 24 in possession
- Canada goose hunters in GMUs 6B, 6C, and on Hinchinbrook and Hawkins Islands in GMU 6D will not need registration permits this year. Registration permits are still needed to hunt Canada geese on Middleton Island.
- A change to the definition of “edible meat” affects hunters who take swans, geese (including brant) and sandhill cranes. For these species, hunters must salvage the meat of the breast, legs and thighs (femur, tibiotarsus, and fibula). Salvage requirements for ducks and snipe have not changed.
Separate Canada goose and white-fronted goose regulations will allow additional harvest of white-fronted geese while maintaining traditional Canada goose hunting opportunities. Alaska hunters will benefit from this change which is primarily intended to increase the harvest of white-fronted geese in the Lower 48. The Pacific population of white-fronted geese has been increasing over the last 30 years, is well above the population objective, and has led to increased complaints of agricultural damage on wintering and staging areas.
Dusky Canada goose populations in the Copper River Delta and eastern Prince William Sound have increased from a low of 6,700 in 2009 to more than 15,000 in 2014. The three-year average population index used for management purposes is 13,700 birds. As a result, the registration permit program for Canada geese has been canceled in GMUs 6B, 6C, and on Hinchinbrook and Hawkins Islands in GMU 6D. The daily bag limit for Canada geese, including cackling geese, is four birds with possession limits of eight.
The Alaska Board of Game moved to expand the definition of “edible meat” with regard to swans, geese and cranes at the statewide meeting in March. The revision was reached in response to public proposals and testimony.
Waterfowl hunting seasons open on September 1 in many parts of the state and hard copies of the 2014-2015 Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations Summary booklet will be available soon at Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices and outdoor sports retailers. The new regulations are currently available online at:http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/regulations/wildliferegulations/pdfs/waterfowl.pdf.
Licenses and Alaska state duck stamps can be purchased online at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=license.main .